The Education Bureau (EDB) announced on Monday that it is launching a Basic Capabilities Assessment (BCA) this May for all local primary schools, fueling concern that the department is repackaging the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) under a new name.
Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim rejected criticism that the BCA is TSA with a different name.
BCA features some new elements, Ng said, claiming that it will have improved question banks and that it incorporates a new feedback system from students, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
One can also expect better support system from schools, the official said, adding that it will improve learning and teaching.
Parents, however, do not seem to share Ng’s viewpoint, with many dissing the EDB in online forums and accusing it of lacking consideration for students’ mental health.
Some parents suggested that students skip school together, do not write their names on papers, or even boycott the exams.
Ng stressed that the government is merely aiming to enhance the system, saying that the TSA now will not be used to assess school performance. He also claims that all government schools will make some changes in their regime and halt the practice of over-drilling students.
However, when asked whether schools can opt out from the new exam, Ng merely said that if a school has any difficulties it can “voice out” the concerns.
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union described the government’s action as “language trickery”, accusing authorities of using “research” as a pretext to reinstate the exam.
A parents group, which said it wants to protect children against the overbearing workload by opting out of TSA, has outlined plans for a protest march next month.
Legislator Ip Kin-yuen has sought an immediate public hearing on the issue to enable parents to raise their concerns.
Democratic Party legislator Hui Chi-fung accused the EDB of not paying heed to citizens’ demands.
Meanwhile, Lai Tsz-man, chairman of the HK Aided Primary School Heads Association, pointed out that it is necessary for schools to have a framework under which they can assess their students.
Retired judge and chief executive candidate Woo Kwok-hing said in a Facebook post that Ng doesn’t seem to be aware of the difficult situation facing local students.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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